Borderline Personality Disorder has nothing to do with being on the cusp of having a personality disorder. It is actually a stand alone personality type that is fully developed but has a misleading sounding moniker to the ears of people who do not have formal training or expertise in Psychology. Defined by the DSM most recently in the DSM5 edition, people with Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD are some of the world’s most vexing and challenging personality types. People with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to run off at the mouth in order to socially dominate conversations. Learning how to spot the type in order to avoid being sucked into endless conversations with them is key to saving yourself countless hours of time — but it’s also key to understanding how to depersonalize the verbal abuse. Since people with BPD tend to heap verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse onto every person they come in contact with, if you are not blood-related to one truly the wisest advice is to strive to socially avoid them.
BPD is one of the four types of Cluster B personality disorders. For those who are just beginning their studies on Narcissistic Abuse, the term can be confusing. They think they are cool, but everyone who is forced to interact with them or feels compelled to listen actually perceives them as control freaks, compulsively self-centered, and a hot mess.
Cluster B refers to a classification of specific personality types that are socially menacing, fundamentally egocentric, and grandiose in their self-reflection. People grouped into the category defined in the diagnostic manuals used by mental health professionals and healthcare providers around the world include:
- Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD
- Histrionic Personality Disorder or HPD
- Anti-Social Personality Disorder or HPD
When diagnosing Cluster B personality types, therapists and psychiatrists oftentimes rely on input from the person’s friends and family. All people with Cluster B personalities are incredibly confusing to live with, as one of their typical hallmarks is being bright and charming in public (to whatever degree their social circle expects), but in private? They are situational abusers of friends, co-workers, and family to an extreme degree — with most also lashing out at strangers when they are off the proverbial radar.
What this means is, if you are a customer service professional chances are you have already been at the receiving end of a Narcissistic Rage rant, attacked squarely by a person who exhibits partial or full-blown traits of Cluster B.
Remember that customer in a restaurant being absolutely horrible to a waitress? How about that woman in the fast food line who simply chews out and personally insults a cashier who was trying their best to be helpful? The store clerk in the grocery line an angry customer deemed was not checking people in line out fast enough for their taste? How about the guy who pulls his car right up on the tail of your car, calling you names in an enraged tone out the window while he beeps his horn and raises his fist for something like you slowing down for an obstacle in front of you that he may or may not be able to see? The woman who lays on her horn and starts shouting derogatory terms at drivers in front of her the very split second a red light turns green because she wants you out of her way? After all, how DARE you expect to share HER street?
We’ve included the aforementioned examples of easy poker tells someone has rage issues and a personality disorder in this article about BPD for a very important reason. You see, people with any form of BPD (ranging from mild to wild) all tend to have secret rage-a-holic issues, situationally provoked by pattern.
Everyone loses their cool once in awhile inadvertently. Not Borderlines.
People with BPD tend to thrive psychologically on randomly blowing up on other people about whatever is their preferred hot button issues. They tend to act like your best friend and the absolute nicest guy in the world one minute, then the next they are ranting and raving irrationally.
The incredible amounts of sheer hormonal damage they provoke in any listener is intense. Anyone who is forced to listen to them either in short bursts or over the course of a few hours experiences surges of FIGHT OR FLIGHT hormones naturally, as some statements they make will be provoking (inspiring people to strive to reason with them in an effort to help them stop their lunatic ranting) while others will be directly “in your face” abusive and fundamentally bullying or insulting.
That’s part of what makes spending any length of time around a person with BPD so fundamentally physically, morally, logically, and emotionally taxing. Typically, they all have to be “right” all the time, completely in control of any mood or tempo in the room, and they are absolutely socially dominating.
People with Borderline personality types don’t dominate conversations the same way their savvy NPD, ASPD, or HPD counterparts tend to do, though. People are not compelled to pay attention to them because they come across as an expert in their field, because they are charming, or because they are (for lack of a better term) “tall, dark, and brooding” like their ASPD Sociopath or Psychopath cousins.
Borderlines show all the traits of having a complex mood disorder like a bipolar condition but instead of mood changes coming on gradually in waves over the course of weeks and months, they literally can be emotional and sobbing over saving the planet and the fate of whales one minute, crying about the injustice of humanity and lecturing anyone listening about how kind and loving a person they are… then 15 minutes later be enraged and screaming out their car window at a senior citizen using a crosswalk to lawfully cross the street in front of them. How dare she interrupt their ability to run through a red light to make a right on red without stopping!
What that means is, people have a terrible time dealing with Borderline personality types in everyday matters because their moods are wildly erratic, unstable to the point of being predictably unstable, and they are — above all else — consistently egocentric and grandstanding.
Anyone who shared a classroom with one as a child is likely to know the type quite well from an early age, noting that children with BPD are typically seen as the class clown turned “disturber”. They are that kid who always laughs just a little too long, a little too loud. They are the one who constantly belligerently argues non-sensical and non-productive points with their teacher.
People with BPD are such compulsive attention-seekers that any time they walk into a room they do all they can to ensure they are seen, heard, and made the center of attention. If that means having a conversation in a restaurant at a loud tone so everyone around them is sure to start staring, they will do it. It also means that ending a conversation with one of them when and if you happen to accidentally run into one in a parking lot or supermarket takes absolutely forever to do.
BPD people are known for going on and on and on in conversations, always striving to turn them into circular arguments on purpose. Why do they intentionally disregard people making helpful insight contributions to a conversation? Because first of all IT WAS NOT THEiR IDEA but second of all because to validate another person’s salient point would allow the possibility of bringing an argument or discussion to a point of closure.
People with BPD fear abandonment. They tend to take social and emotional hostages.
If and when they spot a person who has empathy, look out. That person is likely to become on of their preferred Narcissistic Supply Sources.
People with Borderline Personality types will do all they can to ingratiate themselves with kind-natured people. You know the ones… People Pleasers and those inclined to strive to make other people around them feel good about themselves and validated as human beings in their thoughts, personalities, and unique opinions in general.
Make no mistake — if a person with traits of a Borderline targets YOU for social interaction, their goal around you is total and complete social, psychological, and emotional DOMINATION.
You will not be allowed to make a suggestion or express an idea they don’t argue with you about. Everything you offer them as a helpful social insight or gesture will be shot down, ridiculed, or openly derided.
Have and easy solution to some problem they claim is vexing them? God forbid you share it, as suggesting something helpful that they could do to resolve their emotional pain is likely to net gain you hours of being told every reason in the world why your idea won’t work, why you are stupid, and why they absolutely refuse to even consider it.
Have expertise in your field? Nope. They know it all and you are just a delusional, profoundly uneducated, socially deluded idiot. You know nothing. They know EVERYTHING. And once again, by God, you are going to have to stand while you smile and nod like a simp, feeling the full weight of both their vibrational tonal assault on your senses as well as all the covertly implied insults of who you and everyone you know, respect or treasure as friends get verbally marauded.
The BPD person will stand and insult you covertly at length to your face, presuming that when you consciously choose to let their insulting words or abrasive demeanor slide without comment that you are too stupid to know or understand exactly how much better they think they are than you. They are convinced other people’s kindness enduring them losing their cool and berating is a sign of listener ignorance.
It’s truly sad, as the joke is on them. Every single person who knows them is likely to eye roll the minute their back is turned or the phone rings and it’s a call from them. In BPD land, every 5-minute conversation takes 2 hours to escape them.
But people who strive to be nice to Borderlines typically tend to have no earthly idea why they have such a difficult time enduring being around them for more than a few hours. Ever try to take a vacation with one of them? Don’t. If you do, you will absolutely regret it.
Borderlines, as incredibly egocentric and attention-seeking menaces, have no earthly conception that the people who stand around listening to their seemingly endless blathering do so because they feel sorry for them. While they think they are the most fascinating creatures on the planet to engage with in social interaction, others typically realize there is something not quite right in the head with one of them.
That’s where things get tricky. If a person with Borderline figures out that you have their number — noting that you have figured out they are not the all-powerful, eccentric geniuses many folks wonder initially upon meeting them if they might be — their gut-level reaction is to lash out with reckless abandon. If you figure them out, letting them know the jig is up is likely to land you right in the center of one of their flame campaigns to denigrate you personally, socially, and professionally to any poor sap or con target who will listen to them.
Borderlines lie to save their own skin and reputation socially without hesitation. That means if you confront one about being abusive to you, for instance bringing up that their behavior while raging is damaging to you and socially inappropriate, you are likely to be screamed at by a spitting, foaming at the mouth, tirading, beet-red-in-the-face, completely irrational and verbally abusive person.
Not as inclined to violence as their ASPD classification counterparts, BPD people are famous for throwing incredibly juvenile temper tantrums. Most family members will laughingly call their BPD member’s worst moments lashing out something like their “hissy fits”.
People with BPD are the man or woman who really needs to eat a Snickers bar and chill. They are the grand diva, demanding everyone in their personal world capitulate at all times to their needs.
They do ridiculous things like demand dinner be on the table at 6PM sharp. If lunch was supposed to be ready at noon but the plate did not get set on the table until 12:20pm, they will storm off and refuse to eat whatever you fixed them.
Will they get themselves breakfast if another person in the house they expect to act like their servant sleeps in? No. They will be sitting at the table with a fork in hand, glowering… or worse, stomping in and out of the kitchen, slamming doors and banging cabinets… but never once will they lift a finger to get themselves a bite to eat and simply let the other person take a moment.
If you want their help doing something, anything… no matter how large or how small expect countless hours of seemingly endless whining from them and seriously pointless argument. They are the people who insist on doing everything their own way despite what a client or family member might actually need or want.
Everything has to be their way. Everything has to be their idea.
There is no happy way to deal with such a person in a conversation. Even if they do not attack or confront you directly in an effort to make themselves feel almighty and all powerful in a conversation, chances are that at least 40% of an hour long 5-minute conversation will include them tirading about some thing, situation, person, or circumstance that makes them angry. Then, switching from relentless vitriol to laughing and joking loudly while telling you how wonderful you are, they are, and the conversation has been as if Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde and back again right before your very eyes, they will leave you feeling exhausted psychologically and emotionally speaking after each and every dominated conversation.
That’s why they target passive, nice people to be their “friends” — because they can rant and rave and act like lunatics and chances are the people in their lives will feel sorry for them. Once they have that hook set into the hide of a person they expect to socially bleed dry, look out.
BPD people are an emotional vampire of the most benign of all the Cluster B personality types. What you give them is your time, heartfelt sympathy, and attention.
Sadly, what you get back from them is to have you name slandered relentlessly behind your back, your time absolutely wasted, and your sense of internal loving nature offended to your very core.
Two-faced compulsively, never able to treat other people with respect or dignity, perpetually irrational and incessantly demanding, true Borderline people use their temper tantrums and ability to turn on rage like they are tapping a faucet to control the emotional body of each and every person they are near or contact.
As far as being Cluster B goes, people with BPD are considered treatable. Mental health care professionals tend to avoid working with them though as all lie so compulsively and are so time-sucking that they are unpleasant at best to have to try to do things like psychotherapy with; however, some therapists with the patience of Job do have success working with them.
If your “person” suspected of having BPD or diagnosed with it is willing to go through intense psychotherapy, to do things like really work with their family members and a Behavioral Therapist to retrain core personality habits away from being egocentric, and to actually comply willingly with a treatment program that may include the use of mood stabilizers to tone them down a bit, the BPD is completely biologically capable of succeeding in learning how to manage their disorder to the point no one would know they ever had it.
But that’s the thing. People with BPD don’t DO anything other people suggest or a single thing that could possibly be for someone else’s benefit. There always has to be something “in it for them”.
While normal reciprocity in human relationships typically includes having and showing fundamental respect for the needs and emotions of other people, people with BPD might say they respect someone else but when it comes time to display that emotion none of them seem to be fundamentally capable of honestly doing it. If they concede a point, watching their microexpressions always reveals sneers of contempt.
But ultimately, to have them sneer but capitulate to social pressure to behave like a human and not like a self-aggrandizing ass is the right way to strive for their socialization success. If they are willing to strive to reframe their experiences of the world to such a degree that when they start to trip offline and rant or rave, they learn to stop themselves from having verbal diarrhea, every single person on the planet who comes into contact with them benefits.
However, making that internal shift is something many people with Borderline Personality Disorder have absolutely zero desire to ever do. Why would they? If they remain as is, they feel like king or queen of the world with their subjects cowering at their feet dutifully beneath them.